MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Six Nigerian and Nigerien soldiers were killed by militants from the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) province during an operation this month, an joint military force.
ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram five years ago and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, fights troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger in the Lake Chad region .
A Joint Multinational Task Force (MTJF) made up of Nigerian and Nigerien soldiers had targeted Islamist insurgents near the Lake Chad Basin, but encountered strong resistance and came under fire from mortar attacks and improvised explosive devices, a MTJF spokesman Colonel Muhammad Dole said in a statement.
Two officers and four other servicemen from both countries were killed and 16 wounded, Dole said, without providing a specific date. Twenty-two militants were killed and 17 captured while armed trucks and other weapons and ammunition were destroyed, he said.
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The region where the attacks took place is part of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, the center of the Islamist insurgency in which an estimated 300,000 people have died and millions have remained dependent on aid, according to the United Nations.
Borno governor announced plans to close all IDP camps in the state capital Maiduguri by the end of the month, citing improved security and the surrender of thousands of Boko fighters Haram in recent months.
But militant attacks across Borno are fueling fears among thousands of displaced people to return to their homes.
(Written by MacDonald Dzirutwe, edited by Grant McCool)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.